Bridge Street: Owners of Grade II listed Rose and Crown pub defend bid for outbuildings

The Rose and Crown / Bridge Street Cafe in Bridge Street, near Sudbury.

The Rose and Crown / Bridge Street Cafe in Bridge Street, near Sudbury.

The owners of a Grade II listed pub, which has been closed for more than a year, have told how they struggled to keep the business running in the face of tough trading conditions.

Richard Grey, who owns the Rose and Crown, in Bridge Street, near Long Melford, spoke out ahead of a meeting next week which will determine whether he can make changes to the site to make it more viable as a business premises.

The application to build two detached outbuildings, erect fencing and move an external flue has been criticised by the neighbouring parish councils of Long Melford and Alpheton, and local residents. They have accused the Greys of running the pub with reduced and erratic opening hours, which they say made it impossible for people to support the business.

But Mr Grey, who ran the pub/café with his wife Laura, said the criticisms were unfair and that the recent animosity from people, whom they had previously welcomed into the pub, had been “puzzling and upsetting”.

When the Greys bought the building, it was not a going concern and they invested thousands of pounds to get the business off the ground. The building is currently on the market for £499,950.

Mr Grey said: “We are facing an extremely difficult predicament with the property, and we are keen to see it continue as a public house if it can be made into a viable business. We have it on the market and the feedback is that there is limited space in the kitchen and that’s why we applied for permission for the outbuildings. We don’t want to stop it being a commercial business and contrary to rumours, we have no intention of turning it into a house.”

Mr Grey also refuted claims that the opening hours were erratic, adding: “The business wasn’t making any money so I had to go back to work part time. However, for a whole year, we were operating from Tuesday to Sunday on a regular basis so I don’t think people can say that’s erratic. The bottom line is that there simply wasn’t enough local trade to support the pub and we had to close down because if we hadn’t, we would have lost the roof over our heads.”

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Alpheton Parish Council chairman Ken Watkins and Babergh councillor Richard Kemp have spoken out against the proposed plans for a number of reasons, including the height of the units.

The planning committee is due to make a decision next Wednesday.